The following information on the life and teachings of Hazrat Mian Mir has mostly been derived from chapter 111 of a forthcoming publication of Dr. Zahurul Hassan Sharib:
Hazrat Mian Mir is a great Pir of the subcontinent of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. He is considered as an outstanding wali (friend of God) and an eminent mystic. He traced his relationship from the second caliph of Islam, Hazrat ‘Umar Farooq. His grandfather was named as Qazi Qalandar. His father, named, Qazi Sa’in Data belonged to the Qadiriyya order of the Sufis. His mother, named Bibi Fatima, was the daughter of Qazi Qadan. She was a very accomplished woman of her time. He had four brothers, namely Qazi Bolan, Qazi Mohammed ‘Usman, Qazi Tahir and Qazi Mohammad. Hazrat Mian Mir was the youngest son of his father. All his brothers were his spiritual disciples. He had two sisters, namely Bibi Jamal Khatoonand Bibi Hadia (the manuscript of Dr. Sharib gives: Hadi). According to a document that has been said to be correct by the relatives of Hazrat Mian Mir and by trustworthy people and notables in Sehwan and which was shown by the son of his brother Mohammed, he was born in the year 957/1550.
Initiation in the Sufi order
After the death of his father his only hope was his mother. He continued to derive spiritual blessings from his mother. He, at last, attained perfection in inward knowledge. He severed his connections from the world and the people of the world. Having sought the permission of his mother, he left his home in search of the truth. He underwent very many hardships and ascetic practices.
His search was at last rewarded. He was accepted as a spiritual disciple by Hazrat Shaykh Khizr, who was an enlightened friend of God. He belonged to the Qadiriyya order. He used to roam about in jungles and mountains. He had completely renounced the world. Hazrat Mian Mir was greatly benefitted by his company. The secrets of the divine mystery were disclosed to him. He felt enamoured of a higher life. He felt disgusted with the world, its ways and methods. Hazrat Shaykh Khizr, finding him spiritually perfect, allowed him to go wherever he liked.
Receiving the permission and blessings of his spiritual guide and teacher, he left for Lahore where he engaged himself in acquiring the outward knowledge and learning. He counted Mawlana Sa’dullah as his teacher. Mawlana Sa’dullah, who was considered as one of the leading scholars of Islam of his time, paid him special attention.
It is also said, that he passed some years in the company of Mawlana Ne’matullah, who imparted to him knowledge and who, as he himself says, was quite unmindful of his condition, spiritual attainments and inner purification.
Departure for Sirhind
He did not like the huge crowds of people and the large number of devotees and admirers, who waited upon him day in and day out. He left Lahore for Sirhind. Reaching Sirhind he fell seriously ill. The illness continued for long, without any apparent hope of recovery. One night he invoked the help of Hazrat Shaykh ‘Abdul Qadir of Jilan, who is also known as the Ghaws al-azam (the Great Helper) and Piran-e-Pir (the Teacher of the Teachers). His request did not go unheeded. Shaykh ‘Abdul Qadir and his own spiritual guide appeared and inquired about his health.
He requested Shaykh ‘Abdul Qadir to restore him to health. The shaykh showed him kindness. He rubbed his hand on the body of Hazrat Mian Mir and gave him a cup of water asking him to drink it. As soon as Hazrat Mian Mir drank the cup of water, he felt fully recovered. There was no trace of illness left.
During his illness Hajji Ne’matullah of Sirhind served Hazrat Mian Mir with all his heart and to the utmost of his capacity. Hazrat Mian Mir was highly pleased with him. He inquired from the Hajji, whether he would like to receive spiritual blessings from him, which might transform him completely and thus would make him an enlightened friend of God. Hajji Ne’matullah of Sirhind of course showed his willingness to be spiritually benefited. Hazrat Mian Mir transformed him completely within a week and thus he was able to reach a high position in the spiritual domain.
After recovering completely, Hazrat Mian Mir left Sirhind for Lahore. He settled in Lahore permanently and began to preach and propagate the doctrine of truth.
Relations with the imperial court
Hazrat Mian Mir did not like to meet anybody. But sometimes he was asked to do so. Emperor Jahangir reposed faith in the friends of God. He was fond of meeting Hazrat Mian Mir. The emperor, one day, sent a special messenger to Hazrat Mian Mir requesting him to honour him by his visit to him, regretting his (i.e. Jahangir’s) inability to visit him due to the distance and the pressing demands of the business of the state. Hazrat Mian Mir accepted this request and went to the royal palace. The emperor showed him his utmost respect.
His inspiring company had such a great effect on the emperor, that he sought his permission to abdicate and devote himself exclusively to the remembrance of God. The emperor further told him, that he made no distinction between gold, silver, precious stones and bricks and stones.
Hazrat Mian Mir then said thus: ‘A perfect Sufi is one, who does not make any distinction between a stone and a jewel. Since you say that you make no such distinction, you are a Sufi’.
The emperor submitted that by giving such arguments, he wanted to kill him.
Thereupon Hazrat Mian Mir replied: “your existence is necessary for looking after the people. By the blessings of your justice, the faqirs are concentrating on their work’.
The emperor implored him to pay him attention.
Hazrat Mian Mir told the emperor: ‘At first you secure a conscientious and able man like you for the service of the people. Thereafter I will take you with me and get you engaged in the remembrance of God’.
This reply was highly appreciated by the emperor. The emperor then wanted to know if Hazrat Mian Mir required anything.
Hazrat Mian Mir replied that he did not require anything, but he wanted permission to leave.
The emperor bade him farewell with all the honour due to him.
Emperor Shah Jahan, like his father, also showed Hazrat Mian Mir great respect. The emperor twice visited him in his khanaqah (Sufi centre). He found him a perfect wali. On the occasion of his first visit, the emperor was accompanied by four persons.
Hazrat Mian Mir advised the emperor, that he should look after his people and the affairs of the state. He should not indulge in pleasure. He should be just to all. He should spend all his time in the service of the people, for if the people are satisfied, they will be happy and the state exchequer likewise will be full.
On the occasion of his second visit, the emperor submitted that he should pay him some attention. Thereupon Hazrat Mian Mir replied: ‘It is advisable that when you perform a good deed and make others happy, that you say a prayer for yourself at that time. Do not ask anything from anybody except God’.
Prince Dara Shikoh was of a mystic turn of mind. He loved the company of the Sufis and mystics. He reposed faith in the spiritual powers of Hazrat Mian Mir. Dara Shikoh met him a number of times. The letters written by Hazrat Mian Mir and addressed to Dara Shikoh are revealing and searching, as they point to sad events, which actually happened, resulting in the catastrophe when Dara Shikoh was beheaded.
He breathed his last on the 7th of Rabi’ al-awwal 1045 or the 22nd of August 1635 three hours before the end of Tuesday. He was eighty-eight years then. He lies buried near Lahore Cantonment. His grave can be found at about a mile distance from the city near ‘Alamganj (= World Treasury: It has perhaps received this name as several Sufis lie buried here), that is at the southeast of the city.
Among his outstanding spiritual caliphs may be mentioned the following:
1. Hazrat Mulla Shah
He is the spiritual guide and teacher of Dara Shikoh. He belonged to Badakhshan. In the prime of his youth he left his home in the search of the truth. He visited Kashmir. From Kashmir he proceeded to Agra. During his stay in Agra he heard a great deal about the spiritual perfection of Hazrat Mian Mir. He left Agra for Lahore. He wanted to be accepted as a spiritual disciple. Hazrat Mian Mir advised him to acquire knowledge and learning first and to come to him thereafter. Consequently he was engaged in the pursuit of knowledge for ten years continuously. Afterwards he was accepted as a spiritual disciple by Hazrat Mian Mir. In a very short time he attained spiritual perfection.
Hazrat Mullah Shah was very pious and saintly. He did not marry. He was also a good poet. His poems have been collected in a book entitled “Divan-e-Mulla Shah”. He took to renunciation. For thirty long years he lived in the darkness. When one night Dara Shikoh came to him, he had the lamp lighted in the house after these thirty long years…
2. Shaykh Nattha
He belonged to Lahore. During his last illness he would sit on the porch of the house of Hazrat Mian Mir, absorbed in meditation. At the moment of his death his body remained upright in the contemplative position and only when his hands were touched it was realized he had died. Hazrat Mian Mir experienced the passing a way of shaykh Nattha as a void in his life and he grieved intensely over the death of his favourite mureed. He died in the year 1027 A.H./1618-19 and lies buried in Lahore Cantonment. It is said that the shaykh ‘could communicate with leaves, animals and with all sorts of animate and inanimate objects. He could also stop rains and hailstorms’.
3. Shaykh Ismail
He was a perfect dervish, who derived spiritual blessings from Hazrat Mian Mir.
4. Shaykh Ne’matullah of Sirhind
He was a friend of God upon whom Hazrat Mian Mir showered his spiritual blessings.
5. Mulla ‘Abdul Ghafoor
He died during the lifetime of Hazrat Mian Mir. He was a teacher in Lahore. Giving up all worldly interests and resigning his post, he went to Hazrat Mian Mir. His holiness at first paid him no attention. He became very sorry and sad on that account. But very soon he was able to win the pleasure of Hazrat Mian Mir, who confided to him the divine secrets and acquainted him with various manifestations of the spiritual science. And thus, through the blessings of Hazrat Mian Mir, he attained spiritual perfection. He lies buried in Kala Nur.
6. Mian Hamid Qadiri and 7. Miran Shah Sa’id are his two other caliphs.
Traits of character
Hazrat Mian Mir was of a retiring nature. He hated publicity. He used to devote himself to prayers and remembrance of God in desolate and deserted places. He did not like to mix with the people. He used to control his breath to such an extent, that for some time he breathed only once in the night. When he grew old he used to breathe four times in the night. He accepted a few people as his mureeds.
He was a man of faith. He exhibited marvellous self-control. He would not eat anything for weeks together. For thirty long years there was nothing cooked in his house. Contentment was his armour. In the closing years of his life, he allowed one kind of food to be cooked in his house. His devotees used to cook food in earthen pots for him. He ate very little.
He was ever absorbed. He was unmindful of the weather, the month, the day or the year. He slept little, talked little and mixed with the people little.
He did not go to the house of anyone, for he used to say that if you did not like the people to visit your house, you should not go to the house of the people. He had no love or regard for the people. He was lost in the thought of the Friend. One of his devotees once submitted to him that he might be pleased to remember him at an opportune time. He replied: ‘Woe be to the time, when I may remember you’.
Hazrat Mian Mir did not wear the dress of the dervishes or faqirs. He did not wear a robe or a cloak. He wore an ordinary dress. He had great respect and regard for the dervishes and faqirs. He was not very fond of Sufi music. He was very courteous and kind.
According to Hazrat Mian Mir there are two ways of reaching upto God:
1. One way is to be absorbed and thus to be united with Him. The one who is drawn by God towards Him, becomes united with Him.
2. The other way is that of sulook, treading on the spiritual path, which is a stair to reach upto God either by asceticism and rigours or through the help or assistance of some friend of God.
Hazrat Mian Mir says that the search of God is not an easy thing. To reach God implies hardship. Unless you are lost in His search, you will not be able to find Him for the simple reason that the heart is one, and in one heart only one thing can be contained. Hence it is necessary to pursue the ideal with single-minded devotion. In the pursuance thereof, you should severe your connections from the world and take to renunciation, because by being entangled in the world you cannot become an enlightened one and thus you cannot pay your undivided attention in the right direction.
Hazrat Mian Mir lays down that for those treading on the spiritual path, it is necessary that they should eat little, talk little and sleep little.
He holds that the dress of a dervish should be like those of the common people, so that he may go unnoticed.
1. The lover of the renunciation of the world is he indeed, who does not achieve his object.
2. A Sufi is one who does not exist, i.e. he is united with God.
3. The thought of anyone else besides God reduces your degree of renunciation and asceticism.
4. The urge of submission to God and of doing good is greater when the friends of God are young and it increases during the period of old age. So it is, that the urge to get a thing when an individual is young increases during the period of his (her) old age.
5. The self is reformed by shariat, the heart is reformed by tariqat and the soul is reformed by haqiqat.
6. The hold of the friends of God is the same after their death as it was during their lifetime.
7. When a faqir becomes perfect and his heart is cleared of doubt, then nothing can give him (her) harm or cause him (her) injury. He himself becomes a king then. He does not pay any regard to a king. The kings, on the contrary, are overpowered by him.
Once the brother of Hazrat Mian Mir came to him from his native town after a long time. He received his brother cordially. But unfortunately he had nothing in his house that day. He could not entertain him. He asked his brother to sit and himself went to the garden. He offered the prayers. After the prayers were over, he said this: ‘O, great God! I have received a guest and reposing my faith in Your grace, I have caused him to sit in my house. I have no one else except You to help me!’.
A voice was heard, saying: ‘We have fulfilled your want before your asking’.
In the meanwhile his brother came to him in the garden and informed him, that just after his leaving the house, a certain person brought food and was waiting for him. Hazrat Mian Mir was surprised to see a beautiful young man waiting for him. The young man made a salaam to Hazrat Mian Mir and conveyed the information to him that God, the Almighty, in His grace and kindness had sent the food for him and had also sent something in cash. God has assured him that he would give Hazrat Mian Mir whatever he asked for.
Hazrat Mian Mir asked the young man as to who he was. He replied that he was just an ordinary person. Hazrat Mian Mir took food with his guest. The young man, on the pretext that he was keeping a fast did not join them. After the young man had left, it came out that he was an angel.
THE DEATH OF HAZRAT MIAN MIR
Dara Shikoh (1615-1659) was the oldest son of the Mogul emperor Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. At a young age the prince got acquainted with Hazrat Mian Mir, who came from Sehwan and who had come to Lahore as a representative of the Qadiriyya order. Dara Shikoh and his about a year older sister Jahanara became the mureeds of a successor of Mian Mir, who is called Molla Shah. Among the many books of the prince his “Sakinat al-Awliya” (= The Inward Peace of the Friends of God) is the most famous. It contains, among other things, a detailed biography of Mian Mir who almost always has been mentioned by using his title of honour “Mian Jiw”.
From the “Sakinat al-Awliya” (the following part has been translated from the German version of Annemarie Schimmel) here is what Dara Shikoh tells about the death of Hazrat Mian Mir:
After a stay of more than sixty years of Hazrat Mian Jiw in Lahore, he got dysentery, an illness about which there is a reliable hadith: ‘The one who dies because of dysentery, dies as a martyr’. It lasted for five days and at the 7th of Rabi’ al-awwal 1045 or the 22nd of August 1635 three hours before the end of Tuesday, the bird of his pure soul was released from the cage of bondage because of the human existence, and it raced to the world of the Absolute Divine, which was his native country. He became a drop in the ocean. All of this took place in the area of the town, which is known as Khafipura, in the cell, which was the place wherein he stayed.
Hazrat Khwaja ‘Abdullah Ansari has said: “By God, next to Whom there is no other god! For a good servant there will never come a day which is more beautiful, more serene and more pleasant than the day on which the angel of death comes to him and says: ‘Do not fear, as you are going to the All-Merciful and you return to your native country and it is a day of festival’!” This world is a place for a temporal stop, it is a prison for the believer. This existence is only on loan. This place is a pretext and suddenly the veil is being removed and takes him away and the human being returns to the Truth and enters an eternal life.
The death of a pious person is a life without end
Many of them have died and are kept alive by the people.
The blessed Abu Bakr-e Zaqqaq has said: “The one who has a longing experiences at the gate of death a greater enjoyment than someone who is alive when taking honey”. These kinds of people are so full of joy at the moment of death and they know how to enjoy it as their residence is the world of those without a place. From the final Prophet come these words: “Love of your native country belongs to the faith”. The meaning of this hadith is not hidden to those who have a heart; what is clear does not need an explanation. The Prophet has also said: “Death is a bridge, which unites the friend with the Friend”. (This is by the way no saying of the Prophet, but it is probably a saying of the important Iranian Sufi Yahya ibn Mu’adh (d. ca. 871-2), the ‘preacher of hope’.).
What is more beautiful in his world to long for,
As that the friend reaches the Friend?
There it was misery; here it is peace everywhere.
There it was only words, here it is an embrace.
Some have claimed that Hazrat Mian Jiw had reached an age of 107 years, while others state that he had become 99 years old. According to a document that has been said to be correct by the relatives of Hazrat Mian Jiw and by trustworthy people and notables in Sehwan and which was shown by the son of his brother Muhammad Amin, he was born in the year 957/1550. He was therefore 88 (lunar) years old, but God knows best what is true. There are no differences of opinion about the year, month, day and the time of death of the master. I’ve recorded it as I’ve heard it from and checked it not only by means of his disciples who were present at that time, but also by means of Nur Muhammad, his servant, who was day and night sitting next to him during the days of his illness.
The just-mentioned Nur Muhammad has told this: ‘One day before he died, Wazir Khan, the governor of the city, came to visit the master. He was standing outside of the cell and sent him a message of his arrival. The master answered: ‘Let him go home!’ The servants then tried to persuade him to change his opinion as he had come to visit the patient and he wanted to pay him his respect. Then he said: ‘He is allowed to enter, but he cannot sit down’.
When Wazir Khan entered he said: ‘I’ve brought an excellent physician with me, so if you like he can treat you’.
The master answered: ‘The Absolute Physician is sufficient for me’ – and he asked Wazir Khan to go.
Then I (= Nur Mohammed) noticed that he was a little restless and I asked him: ‘What is causing this restlessness?’
He answered: ‘I would have remembered God for nothing during all of my life, when I sensed restlessness in myself at this moment’.
That which Hazrat Mian Jiw wanted to say with these words was: ‘It is like this that restlessness of necessity stems from the body and from the human nature, and it is caused by the struggle at death. This however is not important as the spirit and the heart are quite peaceful and are active with the remembrance of God. This excitement may come from a too strong a longing of which those who are present are not conscious’.
One day he said: ‘I had heard that the prophets experience a struggle at death as well as restlessness. That is why I was extremely fearful in my heart and from that day on I was worrying about it, until the day when one of my friends, who was one who had experienced inner states, was close to death. Then he started to move his hands and feet quite wildly. I asked him: ‘How about your state of inner concentration? What has happened to it? And why are you thus moving your hands and feet?
He answered: “My state of inner concentration is even stronger than before, and I don’t experience what you suggest’.
This answer made it clear to me that the hearts of the friends of God is at peace at that time and that the external restlessness is not really of importance’.
When the governor of the city was informed about the terrible event of the departure of the master he returned to the cell together with his family, the great ones, the scholars and people of merit of the city. The disciples and the servants of the master were occupied with the final preparations and put him in the funeral cloth. A little later the prayer for the deceased was accomplished by a great number of important people and other Muslims. Then they respectfully carried the corpse of the master from the city to the spot, which had been recommended by the master himself during his lifetime: ‘Take me to the spot where my friends are resting!’
They carried the corpse and exactly buried this pearl among the knowers of God in this earth which was like paradise, and which could be found at about a mile distance from the city near ‘Alamganj, that is at the south-east of the city. Both the high and the low were very sad because of the departure of the master. They experienced this day to be as difficult as the Day of Resurrection and repeated the following verse over and over:
Alas! The one who renounced the world completely,
Has left the world:
As pure as he was when he entered it,
As pure he has left it.
The circle around the centre of the world,
Became sad because of his death.
The centre of generosity has left us.
The falcon of his soul,
Which was hunting for the highest wisdom,
Had heard the drum of the King
And quickly went away.
The heart in the body is sad,
As the trustworthy one has gone away.
The soul has escaped from the body:
Its strong support has gone away!
A creative man, Molla Fathullah wrote this chronogram:
O, Mian Mir, you are the opening
Of the book of the enlightened.
The dust of the door
Of the envied elixir.
He just travelled on
To the eternal city.
Here, in the valley of tears,
He was sad and he was suffering.
The intellect wrote down
The date of his death:
‘Mian Mir went towards the Highest Paradise’.
(The chronogram can be found in the final line of this poem in the words: ‘Ba-firdaws-e-wala mian mir raft – Mian Mir went towards the Highest Paradise, the numerical value of which is 1045 A.H. or 1635 C.E.).
Each night before the Friday (what is in the west the Thursday night is already a Friday according to Islam as a day starts at the setting of the sun) the people went in large crowds to visit Mian Mir in order to walk around the radiant resting-place of this leader of the friends of God in order to be blessed by God. Especially those who belonged to the companions of Hazrat Mian Jiw think it is necessary and think it to be an honour to walk around this ka’ba of wishes. The one who has a problem or a wish finds a solution or a fulfilment of the wish after leaving this blessed place of rest.
(In the following part prince Dara Shikoh, the author of this biography of Hazrat Mian Mir writes about his personal experiences in regard to the death of the pir of his pir). By sheer bad luck and because of the difficulties at that time with many evil days I, the poor one, was not present at the time of the death of the master, but I was in Agra. One day, it was three hours before the end of the day, I saw in a dream that I was present with Hazrat Mian Jiw. He gave some advices and then said to me: ‘You have to say the of the dead for me!’
As I could not understand this type of order, I became quite excited and declined to do it, but the master says it with a strong emphasis and at that very moment I see that he clearly dies, and I say the prayer of the dead as he had ordered me to do. I awoke in a confused and sad state, and the marks of sadness and tears were quite visible. This event made me very astonished and I had to think often about it. Several days later the horrible message arrived from Lahore that at the same day and at the exact same time as I had seen al of this, the terrible event took place.
We are in the caravan
Of the land of the living to the hereafter.
He was a hero,
And that is why he preceded us.
Like the pupil of the eye
I am drowned in a stream of tears.
From my wounded eyelashes
Many tears came forth.
I said; ‘Until my end
I will complain because of him.
The strength to speak
Has left me because of my sadness’.
The owners of a heart,
Who have dead before their deaths,
They drink from the cup of death
The water of eternal life.
They have removed their luggage,
From the temporal residence
And then went on their way
To the eternal kingdom.
We sacrifice our lives for those,
Who hardly took one or two steps
On the path of the seeker
And already sacrificed their hearts and souls.
A pious man has told this: “In the night before the day that the master wanted to return to the mercy of God I saw in my dream an exciting situation. Someone cried: ‘One of the servants of God has returned to the mercy of God. Everyone who will attend to his funeral prayer, his or her sins will be forgiven!’ When I awoke I was thinking who this servant of God might be. Suddenly someone brought the message that Hazrat Mian Jiw had died and I went to his funeral prayer”.
Molla Fath Muhammad, who was a pious man, has told this story: “Hajji Parasha, who had served the master during his final illness, has said: ‘Shortly before his death the master wanted to do something. He became suddenly restless and wanted to rise from his bed. I took his hand in my hand in order to help him. He withdrew his hand from mine and said: ‘Don’t do that!’ He himself left his bed while he was trembling a lot and said: ‘O, messenger of God! Blessings and peace be upon you!’ Then his breathing changed into a short type of breath and while I put him down on his bed he recited the words: “Allah! Allah!” and smiling he moved his hands just like those people do who are in ecstasy, until he entered the forgiveness of God’.”
Mian Shaykh Muhammad Lahori told me (= Dara Shikoh): “I was with Mian Jiw at the time of his death. During his struggle at his deathbed I saw that he slowly moved his lips. I approached him in order to hear what he had to say and noticed that his breath came from his breast and that he was restless, until the moment that he said two times ‘Allah, Allah’ and it stopped. Most of us were thinking that Hazrat Mian Mir never had practised the remembrance of God aloud, but in this moment it became clear that it has been always his dhikr. But even in this moment it did not became clear because of his wish, but because of his breath was used to it; it was its habit so to say”.